A map by Pierre Jacotin from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 noted the place.
In 1875 Victor Guérin visited, and described the village as rather ruined and built of basaltic stone, situated in a fertile valley. In 1881, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Yemma as having basaltic stone houses, containing 100 Muslims, on an arable plain. There were no gardens or trees, but two springs were near, and the village had cisterns. To the south-west of this site there was a supply of water among the rocks of the valley.
The "Yamah" settlement was initially planned for 40 farms, each holding 300 dunams. What is now Yavne'el was established on October 7th, 1901, by the Jewish Colonization Association on lands bought from the Delaike (Al-Dalaika) Bedouin tribe by Baron Rothschild. The first settlers came from the Hauran region (Jewish settlers of the Hauran or "Horan" as it was called, had been evicted from there in 1898 by the Ottoman authorities), joined in December 1901 by villagers from Metula. In 1914-15, immigrant families from the Yemen settle in Yavne'el.
The local council is jointly responsible for Yavne'el, Beit Gan, Mishmar HaShlosha, and Smadar. The first three were established as moshavot (early Zionist agricultural colonies) and are very close to each other, while Smadar, originally a moshav (communal village with more economic autonomy for the member families than a kibbutz), is slightly farther away.
In 1991, the authors of a book on Jewish identity in contemporary Israel noticed that, although in many ways typical for the processes Israeli society underwent since its inception, Yavne'el has a core group of farmers described as "rooted yeomanry", uncommon outside the few moshavot of the first hour of Zionist settlement that retained their initial rural character - no more than a dozen in the entire country. These farmers are deeply connected to the place, dedicated to working the land, and see themselves as spearheading the tremendously important task of returning the nation to a set of values long lost or ignored by Jews everywhere else, starting with different-minded neighbours from Yavne'el. They are compared to wheat farmers of the American Midwest or Sweden, in the way they both sound and look.
^ ab"Harav Eliezer Shlomo Shick, zt"l, of Yavne'el". Hamodia, Israel news, February 12, 2015, p. 9.
^Tzoren, Moshe Michael. "Away From the Hustle and Bustle of the Big City: Investors from Israel and abroad are buying up large lots in Yavniel, a quiet village in the Galilee, with an eye on building hundreds of housing units for the chareidi public". Hamodia Israel news, 23 December 2010, pp. A26-A27. Retrieved 29 January 2011.